Steak – Santa Maria Style BBQ Beef Tri-tip

Santa Maria BBQ Steak or Tri-tip
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
From Santa Maria, California, this recipe for grilled grass-fed beef is traditionally prepared with a sliced bottom sirloin roast called a tri-tip steak. This cut ranges from 2½ pounds to 4 pounds. Figure on ½ pound of meat (before cooking) per person. This recipe can also be made using a thick london broil or sirloin steak. We recommend using SVF's Grass-fed Sirloin steak or Tri-tip roast.
Recipe for: GRASS-FED BEEF
Cut of Meat: Sirloin Steak, London Broil, Tri-tip Steak Roast, Triangle Steak, Bottom Sirloin Roast
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 grass-fed tri-tip roast, also known as triangle steak look for one well-marbled with fat.
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry rosemary (or fresh, finely minced)
  • ½ teaspoon dry sage
  1. Mix all the ingredients, except the meat, together in a bowl to make the Santa Maria rub.
  2. Place the grass-fed steak or roast in a roasting pan or baking pan with edges (this will help keep the rub from getting all over the floor). Sprinkle the rub on the meat on all sides, and massage the rub into the meat. Cover and let sit at room temp for an hour.
  3. Prepare your grill for hot direct heat on one side, and indirect heat on the other. (By the way, if you are working with a wood-fired grill, Santa Maria BBQ traditionally uses red oak wood.) Sear the roast on all sides, 3-4 minutes per side, or sear the steak 1 minute on each side. Carefully watch the roast during this process as one side of the roast is typically quite fatty and as the fat heats up it can drip down and cause flare-ups. Keep moving the tri-tip away from the flame if flare-ups occur.
  4. Once the tri-tip is seared on all sides, move it away from direct heat and place it fat-side up on the grill rack. If you are using a gas grill with a top rack, I recommend placing the roast on that rack, with an aluminum tray on the bottom rack underneath to catch the fat drippings. If you are grilling on charcoal or wood, you may want to turn the roast over every few minutes, for more even heating. Try to maintain a grill temperature of 250°F to 300°F.
  5. Cover the grill and cook until the temperature of the interior of the tri-tip reaches 120°F for rare, 130°F for medium-rare and 140°F for medium. At this point the roast will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to cook, depending on how hot your grill is, how well done you want it, and the size of the cut. A steak will take a lot less time (3-4 minutes). Note that the interior temperature will continue to rise at least 5°F after you take the roast off the heat.
  6. Once the meat reaches temperature, remove it from the grill and let it rest, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes if using a roast and 4 minutes if using steak. Slice against the grain and serve.